The Multiple Functions of a Market
What do you think of when you consider a market's main function? Is it to shop? To see people? To learn about new foods and food products? To enjoy beautiful weather while shopping? To support local food entrepreneurs and farmers? It seems that the New Amsterdam Market does all of these things. On Sunday, the Market hosted multiple events: a gathering of fisheries; a long table covered with food products from Vermont and the Hudson Valley, brought by a wind-powered barge; and a town hall-style talk with NAM Founder and President Robert LaValva and Peter Stanford, who founded the South Street Seaport Museum along with his wife Norma.
What these events showed is the multi-faceted nature of the New Amsterdam Market: it is preserving history, supporting contemporary culture and economic development, and providing space for relationships of all sorts to emerge and blossom. It does all of this while supporting sustainably-produced food and giving new businesses a place to develop a customer base and pioneer products. I met a man there on Sunday who was selling oyster knives made out of an old ship! I also encountered entirely new food products, like a savory yogurt; I saw a bounty of foraged mushrooms like head of the woods; I bought organic vegetables from the Hudson and a delicious, fresh hot pocket from a local bakery. And I even ran into friends!
NAM and the South Street Seaport Museum may be under threat, as the Howard Hughes Corporation moves forward with its plan to develop Pier 17 and possibly the site where the market and museum now exist, which includes the historic fish market building and tin building. But both NAM and the Museum are propped up by loyal friends who know the value of these institutions and are ready to act. And the time to act is now; the change in administration will provide an opening for renewed discussion about the Seaport and what it means for New York City.
Rabbity readers, please share your thoughts in the comments as to ways that we can support the Seaport's role as a public space for historic preservation, market activity, culture and economic opportunity! And look here for updates on ways you can help, whether through donations, time, or using your network.